Gangland was a man’s world – but the women knew different
Alice Diamond, the Queen of the Forty Thieves, rules over her gang of hoisters with a bejewelled fist. Nell is a slum girl from Waterloo, hiding a secret pregnancy and facing a desperately uncertain future.
Sensing an opportunity to exploit Nell’s vulnerabilities, Alice takes her under her wing and, before long, Nell is experiencing the secret world of hoisting, with all the dangers – and glamorous trappings – that comes with this underworld existence.
Alice has a longstanding feud with Billy Sullivan’s all-male gang in Soho, and thinks Nell could be a useful weapon in her vendetta. But Nell has a secret agenda of her own, and is not to be underestimated. And the more she is exploited by both Alice and Billy, the more her hunger for revenge grows. As she embraces the seedy underbelly of London, will she prevail in carving out her own path to power and riches…
…and crown herself the Queen of Thieves?
From Sunday Times bestselling author Beezy Marsh comes a thrilling new crime saga series, perfect for fans of Sam Michaels, Martina Cole and Jessie Keane.
CW: violence, pregnancy, rape, confinement
This was a bit of a different read for me, as I don’t usually read gangland stories, but I love a good heist so I was fairly sure I’d enjoy this one. And I’m really glad I did! Queen of Thieves is a captivating read, as our protagonists play in the high-stakes game of post-WWII London gangland. Only one will emerge as the Queen of Thieves, and the future is far from rosy for the loser…
I had a lot of fun with this book, despite it touching on some tough topics and including some pretty explicit violent scenes. The characters were far from likeable, but they were certainly interesting, complex and resourceful and as morally grey as they come. I enjoyed the double narration from Nell’s and Alice’s POVs and getting to know both of them better. They were both extremely interesting as MCs, highly resilient and ready to do whatever it takes to not only survive, but thrive in a brutal, male-led environment. I love the recent trend that centres women’s experiences in traditionally male stories, and Queen of Thieves does a great job of that.
The plot itself was interesting enough, although I had foreseen the main twists and reveals quite early on, so I wasn’t particularly wowed by anything. It still flowed smoothly though and kept me interested to see who would crown herself the Queen of Thieves. The setting was also great, as post-war London and its seedy underbelly really came alive and played a key role in all the characters’ actions.
What I really struggled with was the writing. The style just didn’t work for me: I found it too simplistic and, often, confusing. There was also some major spelling, grammar and coherence issues, which I hope will have been fixed in the final version, but really dampened my enjoyment of this ARC. Now, this is entirely personal taste, and this writing and I didn’t click but that doesn’t mean it will be the same for you!
Overall, Queen of Thieves is an entertaining read, perfect if you’re looking for a quick read to keep you engaged without an overly complex plot. Fans of heists, gangland and crime will particularly appreciate this work in centering female characters in what has been an overwhelmingly male trend.